Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”

Jim’s theme for this week is "music by Canadian musicians." I have Arlee Bird to thank for introducing me, in a way, to the music of Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "Coburn"). A while back, every time I’d publish a playlist and solicit the name of other songs that fit, Arlee would almost always suggest a song by Cockburn. Having learned that he was from Ottawa, Ontario (Canada’s Washington, DC) sealed the deal.

Cockburn wrote "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and recorded it on his 1984 album, Stealing Fire. It was a Top 40 hit for him, peaking at #25 on the Canadian charts in August. YouTuber Robin Gladstone has this to say about the song six years ago:

He wrote this while walking with his then five year old daughter. He was gloomy about the state of the world and wondered how it would be for her in coming years.He was inspired by her innocence and fascination with the world.

The song has also been done by Dan Fogelberg on his 1990 album The Wild Places, and by Barenaked Ladies on the 1991 Cockburn tribute album Kick At The Darkness.

The lyrics, from AZLyrics:

Don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by?
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin, this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

Lovers in a dangerous time

Lovers in a dangerous time

Lovers in a dangerous time

Now for a bonus, here’s guitarist Lenny Breau, who was born in Maine but lived in New Brunswick and Manitoba and is in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He starts with an improvisation followed by Toots Thielemans’s "Bluesette."

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for September 20, 2020.

Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Ella Fitzgerald, “Night And Day”

Jim has us doing this week’s songs on "contrasts," and I’m going with my first idea. I’m not sure if someone else will use this, nor do I especially care: I love the song, the composer, and the singer.

"Night And Day" was written by Cole Porter for the 1932 musical Gay Divorce. Fred Astaire introduced the song, and his recording of it with the Leo Reisman Orchestra topped the charts of the day for eleven weeks. Astaire reprised his role in 1934 for the movie The Gay Divorcee, which also starred Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore and Erik Rhodes, and sang it there as well. It’s one of Porter’s greatest contributions to The Great American Songbook, "the canon of significant early-20th-century American jazz standards and popular songs," as The Blogger’s Best Friend™ tells us.

In my opinion, no one sang the standards like Ella Fitzgerald. After Norman Granz, her manager, created Verve Records in 1956, she produced a series of "Songbook" albums that covered most of the songs in the Great American Songbook. The first was an album of the music of Cole Porter, and naturally it included "Night And Day."

Lyrics courtesy of YouTube user uzomad:

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It’s no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Night and day,

Day and night, why is it so
That this longing for you follows wherever I go
In the roaring traffic’s boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Night and day

Night and day
Under the hide of me
There’s an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And its torment won’t be through
‘Til you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for September 13, 2020.

Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise”

Today’s topic, as Jim will tell you, is "musical/opera." This is pretty easy for me, as a lot of songs from musicals have become standards, songs that performers from many different genres will generally have in their repertoires, particularly jazz musicians.

One such standard is "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," from the musical The New Moon, which was written by Sigmund Romberg (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel, and Laurence Schwab (lyrics and book). It was first presented on Christmas Eve 1927 in Philadelphia, and was the third and last of three musicals that Romberg wrote in the style of Viennese operetta, the previous two being 1924’s The Student Prince and 1926’s The Desert Song.

I’ve been interested in Romberg’s work since seeing the 1955 movie of his life, Deep In My Heart, which starred JosĂ© Ferrer as the composer. The movie itself was a biopic with numerous scenes from Romberg’s musicals, including a scene from his show That Midnight Girl where Ferrer and his very pregnant wife, Rosemary Clooney, danced with each other. (Based on the timing, she was probably expecting their son Miguel, who was in at least one of the Hot Shots! movies, Crossing Jordan, and NCIS: Los Angeles.)

Anyway, I first heard this when George Benson covered it on his 2004 album Irreplaceable. That being an instrumental, I couldn’t use it here, but there is a veritable plethora of recordings by vocalists, including Frank Sinatra. But you know me, I had to go with the oldest recording I could find, a 1929 recording by Nat Shilkret and The Victor Orchestra, with the vocal provided by Franklyn Baur. The vocal itself doesn’t start until 1:20, so be patient…

The lyrics, from MetroLyrics:

Softly as in a morning sunrise
The light of love comes stealing
Into a newborn day

Flaming with all the glow of sunrise
A burning kiss is sealing
A vow that all betray

For the passions that thrill love
And take you high to heaven
Are the passions that kill love
And let it fall to hell
So ends the story

Softly as in an evening sunset
The light that gave you glory
Will take it all away

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday, and Song of the Day, for September 6, 2020.

Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Howlin’ Wolf, “Evil (Is Going On)”

So today, Jim has given us "cruel, evil, horrible, monster, wicked" as our prompts, and of course my mind heads to the West Side and the song stylings of Chester Arthur Burnett, better known to one and all as Howlin’ Wolf. "Evil (Is Going On)" was written by the Poet Laureate of the Blues, Willie Dixon, and recorded by Wolf in 1954. Besides Howlin’ Wolf on vocal and harmonica, that recording featured Wolf’s longtime sideman, Hubert Sumlin, and Jody Williams on guitars, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon himself on double bass, and Earl Phillips on drums.

The lyrics, from MetroLyrics:

If you’re a long way from home
Can’t sleep at night
Grab your telephone
Somethin’ just ain’t right

That’s evil, evil is goin’ on wrong
I am warnin’ you brother
You better watch your happy home

Well, long way from home and
Can’t sleep at all
You know another mule
Is kickin’ in your stall

That’s evil, evil is goin’ on wrong
I am warnin’ you brother
You better watch your happy home

You better catch him
‘Cause somethin’ wrong
In your home

Well, if you call her on the telephone
And she answers awful slow
Grab the first train smokin’
If you have to hobo

That’s evil, evil is goin’ on wrong
I am warnin’ you brother
You better watch your happy home

If you make it to your house
Knock on the front door
Run ’round to the back
You’ll catch him just before he go

That’s evil, evil is goin’ on
I am warnin’ you brother
You better watch your happy home

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for August 30, 2020.

Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Sonny Boy Williamson II, “Nine Below Zero”

Today’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt from Jim is “above, between, below,” which sends me back to the South Side to get another blues player, Aleck “Rice” Miller. In 1941, Miller was hired to play for the King Biscuit Time show that was broadcast on KFFA radio (1360 AM) in Helena, Arkansas (which, from what I understand, is still running), sponsored by Interstate Grocer Company, distributor of King Biscuit Flour. Max Moore, head of Interstate, started to bill Miller as Sonny Boy Williamson, even though the real Sonny Boy was playing in Chicago at the time. It’s customary to refer to Miller as Sonny Boy Williamson II to distinguish between the two.

Anyway, he wrote “Nine Below Zero,” which has since been done by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf (who was Sonny Boy’s brother-in-law) and others over the years. Sonny Boy recorded the song twice, once in 1951 as the B side of “Mighty Long Time” on Trumpet Records, then again in 1962 as the flip side of “One Way Out” (later done by The Allman Brothers Band) for Checker Records (a subsidiary of legendary blues label Chess Records). This is a live performance that’s introduced by Memphis Slim, who introduces Otis Spann, Muddy Waters’s longtime piano player. The others playing with Williamson and Spann are Willie Dixon on bass, Matt “Guitar” Murphy on guitar (imagine that!), and I’m not sure, but I believe that’s Fred Below (appropriately enough) on drums.

The lyrics are from AZLyrics:

Ain’t this a pity, people ain’t this a cryin’ shame
Ain’t this a pity, people ain’t this a cryin’ shame
Well you know it’s nine below zero, she put me down for another man

Gave her all of my money, all of my love and everything
I gave her all of my money, all of my love and everything
Nine below zero, she put me down for another man

She lied to me, she didn’t tell me everything
She lied to me, the woman didn’t tell me everything
Well you know its nine below zero cousin, she put me down for another man

Ain’t this a pity, people ain’t this a cryin’ shame
Ain’t this a pity, people ain’t this a cryin’ shame
It’s nine below zero, she put me down for another man

I’m gonna retire on the delta, layin’ out there in the fallin’ rain
I’m gonna retire on the delta, layin’ out there in the fallin’ rain
You know it’s nine below zero people, and my love don’t mean a thing

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for August 23, 2020.